Nuit of the Living Dead


Sedaris, David


Short Story


Award-winning humorist David Sedaris is a well-known author, playwright, and commentator for National Public Radio. This essay, from his popular book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, tells the story of a chance encounter between an American living in France and a van full of lost Scandinavians. As he helps them find their way, he develops a new perspective. This story raises questions of how our interactions with others affect us and what happens when we view our lives through the eyes of a stranger?

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Dress Your Children in Corduroy and Denim (Little, Brown & Company, 2004)




Exclusion and BelongingIdentity and CommunityKnowledge and Uncertainty

Big Questions

How do we respond to strangers?What does it mean to be a stranger or an outsider? What does it feel like?How do we define who we are?How do you understand your own identity? How does it relate to the communities you are a part of?What do we know for sure? What do we not know?What is the value of uncertainty?Why do we reflect? What makes reflection difficult?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. How would you describe the speaker at the beginning of the story based on how he talks about himself?
  2. How does the speaker talk about interacting with strangers? What does he observe about his home through the lens of his visitors?
  3. How would you describe the speaker later in the story when he describes himself through the stranger’s eyes?
  4. How does the speaker’s perspective influence this story?
  5. What assumptions do we make about others? How do we know how to judge people?
  6. How do we know, perceive, and describe ourselves?
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